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Sammy around the world: how it all began

by Samantha Wall

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Sammy, her brother Jamie, and friends on deck crossing the Pacific, Galapagos to Marquesas

It all began when I was eight years old.

My world consisted of our small but comfortable waterfront house nestled in the canals of Fort Lauderdale, Florida
As lookout on the bow as KANDARIK negotiates the pass into Moorea, French Polynesia

The memories are distant though clear in certain details, as if I am peering through a dirty window and find a certain spot that is miraculously clean and the hazy outside is at once in sharp perspective.

I remember lounging languidly in the lush grass under the immense trampoline in my back yard, curiously watching my parents scurrying around looking hot and distracted. Back and forth, forth and back, from house to dock, and back again. In my careless young oblivion, I did not really bother to think what was harassing them. My world consisted of our small but comfortable waterfront house nestled in the canals of Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

However, I was perceptive enough to feel the intense energy and slight strain that seemed to silently leap between my beloved parents. It was not often that I was witness to such behavior.

I remember feeling the smallest inkling of guilt that I was not helping them in their mad rush to accomplish the major task that lay ahead. I was too afraid to ask if I could aid them in their hectic race, for fear as a result, I would have to leave the charm of my marvelous play world. So, like many unpleasant thoughts, I ignored it with ease and continued to bounce happily on the trampoline in the soothing late afternoon sun.

Lying restlessly at our home's dock, our boat Kandarik looked like an overstuffed barge with all the packages and boxes of supplies and provisions piled on her decks. Everything from canned peaches to engine parts, from pots to pillows, from Barbie dolls to school books, were somehow assembled in a haphazard heap on Kandarik's protesting deck awaiting the agile hands and mind of my Mother's superb stowing techniques.

Where on earth would it all fit? I remember people stopping by our house all evening saying things like, “Bon Voyage” and “Aren't you scared to be doing this?” “How will you handle the kids on such a small boat?” “How long will you be gone?” My parents looked polite and slightly pained as they answered the questions. They knew that most people thought that they were half-insane to be striking out on such an adventure with two small children.

The next morning in the early light of a peaceful dawn, we walked down the lawn of our Floridian home and boarded Kandarik.

I don't think I fully comprehended what was actually taking place. My four-year old brother was put in my charge while my parents made last minute checkups on the boat. I was then told to say goodbye to my grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and the few close friends who were gathered in a tight expectant knot on our dock.

Amidst a flurry of blown kisses and waving farewells, my Mother started the engine as my Father gathered in the docklines.

We slowly headed down the canal to the entrance of Port Everglades and then to the sparkling and beckoning ocean to sail around the world for the next six and a half years.

I did not know that fateful morning that this voyage would plot the course of the insatiable craving of adventure and wanderlust that I possess.

This special force will forever haunt and drive me in my life. I blame all of this on my darling parents.

One of my favorite subjects is boasting about my Mother and Father and their amazing accomplishments in my eyes. Let me now take the time to explain a fragment of my parent's unusual background and their strong connections to the sea.

My Father was born into a comfortable family in Sydney, Australia in the year of 1942.

His father would love to go fishing on the weekends with his three sons in motor launches and his mother was far too busy being a socialite to worry about the trivialities of a boat. Because of this, I asked my father where he found his love of sailing when he was a young boy. He told me it was streaming through his blood from birth. As a young boy he dreamed of sailing the South Pacific. When he was older he devoured any book he could find on the subject of the ocean. My Father, as a young teenager, would imitate the dress of his favorite television character in the program “Adventures in Paradise ”. He would sneak reading cruising magazines at his job as an accountant instead of adding up figures at his desk.

Unfortunately, his family's plans for him did not include these dreams; he was expected to take over the family's four generation old construction business in the heart of Sydney. However, things took a beautiful turn in my Father's favor as a result of a noble man who recognized a son's love of adventure and the sea, my grandfather.

At twenty-one years of age my Father was given a thirty-foot sailing boat from my grandfather and was told he could at last follow his dreams. He set off for the South Pacific and the infamous Cape Horn in 1965 with his two best friends, his father's sincerest blessings and a quest for amazing experiences.

My Father broke two world records when he rounded the dreaded Cape Horn; one was the smallest boat to round the Cape and also the first Australian yacht to accomplish this. In addition to these records, my Father would modestly recall that he was the 13th yachtsman to round Cape Horn at that time. Nonetheless, it was not ideal sailing conditions when these records were broken. The day my father actually rounded the Horn it was blowing a hellish ninety knots and his boat consequently rolled over in a knockdown losing both the dodger and the dinghy strapped on to the deck. Another small singularity that I love to ponder is that my father and his audacious crew were sailing Carronade under bare masts with a few tires in tow to slow the boat down, and yet they still were averaging over nine knots as they careened down the waves. I would have been absolutely terrified.

Looking back on this, it always amazes me to think my Father was younger than my twenty-five years when he accomplished this. Not to mention the only equipment on board his cherished vessel was a compass, a lead line and a sextant. If only I had half his courage.

During his travels my Father sailed to the United States, which eventually led him to meet my mother. She likes to tell the story that he was on a holy quest to find his true love in Florida. My Mother is convinced that is the real reason for his voyaging.

My Mother grew up on Lake Michigan with a father who adored to race on sailboats.

He owned many racing yachts and loved the fact that his adventurous daughter would always accompany him on these races.

My Mother was the only female to take navigation classes in her college and always dreamed of meeting a tall blond sailor who would sweep her off her feet. Immediately after she graduated she migrated down to Fort Lauderdale, Florida to become closer to this fantasy.

With the ocean close next to her and working as a yacht broker, my mother kept a sharp lookout for that certain sailor. Conveniently, she met him walking down the dock at Bahia Mar Marina right outside of her yacht broker's office.

My father happened to be strolling along with an old boyfriend of my mothers'. Correspondingly, my mother rushed out of her office onto the marina dock, pretending to be all aflutter at seeing her old boyfriend again, however, all she actually desired was an introduction to my father. It worked!

My mother tells me she fell in love at first handshake. My Father was looking for a woman to share the sailing life with him.

They were a match made in heaven.

This is the story of how it all began for me.

Pointing out fish to Daddy
Practicing the Tamare for dance contests in Tahiti

It is difficult to even begin to explain the ramifications of our family voyage and its affect on me. How can one explain the passion, the fear, the wonder, and the beauty of growing up on a boat?

To describe the many places I visited and lived would take up a multitude of pages, for I would not want to miss one detail in the telling. Just saying the names of the destinations we experienced sounds romantic and tantalizing: Tahiti, Madagascar, Indonesia, South Africa, New Zealand and more. I sometimes feel, as if in a dream, that I am there with my beautiful boat cradling me as I fall asleep knowing I am entirely safe in my world of wondrous places and beautiful people.

It was not always idyllic. Often I would make friends only to have to sadly leave them. I remember the laziness I felt when my father woke me at three a.m. for my watch on the helm for two hours of steering in bad weather. I used to wonder what other sane fourteen-year-old would be doing this.

But of course, all my insipid grumbling were forgotten when, after being at sea for days and days, we saw the tiny smudge of land on the horizon. This meant we would be making our landfall and would be resting quietly in an anchorage in a new and foreign country ready for us to explore. And for all the people I left behind, there would be more to meet in the next port.

Now in my late twenties, I would do anything to be out there on the ocean again, with the stars up above me and the sea moving underneath the elegant hull of our boat.

It is simple out there on the ocean with nothing but the horizon, the sea, and sky. This feeling is lost to me on dry land getting caught up in my everyday schedule of work, relationships and life.

I am always happiest on the ocean and will hold tightly the goal to return again, someday on my own boat with my own future family.

About Samantha Wall

Sammy and her daughter Andi

Samantha, Sammy, WALL was born into a sailing family. Along with her little brother, Jamie, she and her Mother and Father, Pam and Andy Wall, sailed their home built Freya 39, KANDARIK around the world from 1985 through 1991.

Upon returning to their home in Fort Lauderdale after six and half years living aboard their boat, Sammy went to high school and later University in France where she was able to continue speaking in perfect French learned from her year in school in Papeete, Tahiti. Sammy continued with a degree from Nova Southeastern University in Child Psychology.

Yearning to sail on tall ships she spent a couple of summers crewing on the Windjammers in Maine.

Loving Maine she worked for the State of Maine as a child psychologist for Handicapped, Autistic, and Battered Children. A young Australian fell in love with Sammy and they had a darling little girl they named Andi.

Sammy was a gallant warrior princess as shortly after the birth of Andi she fought a battle against cancer more fiercely than any strong soldier ever could have done. Her brave battle was not enough to challenge the deadly cancer.

Surely the angels wanted her, and Sammy left this world at age 34 to sail infinitely with her Father, Andy, in the sea of clouds.


Read also, on this website:
12 Questions To 12 Sailing Families: the KANDARIK family